By Tiffany Vail
Associate Conference Minister for Communications
When the Together, As One
planning team - a mix of board members and staff from the three southern New England conferences - began work this summer on hashing out a proposal to form a new, unified conference, they knew they needed to start with the "why."
The team members felt there was no point in figuring out governance or structure or bylaws until they could clearly articulate why the Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island conferences might want to join together to form a new conference in the first place.
The team has now developed a Vision, Mission and Purpose statement,
with an accompanying Conversation Guide
, A hard copy of the statement and guide is being mailed to each church in the three conferences, and is also available on the Together, As One updates page.
"We would like for every congregation to find a way to engage in conversation around this statement," the groups says in a letter
to all the congregations. "Your leadership team, your youth group, your regular gatherings of members and friends could be among some of the places where you could have a conversation about this statement." Associations are also being encouraged to review the statement together.
The statement says that the "uniting covenant" of the three Conferences is: "Living the Love and Justice of Jesus
." It also declares the following values as "essential to our shared ministry together:"
- We understand the local church exists to make disciples of Jesus, and we welcome all people unconditionally to share in this calling.
- We commit to making God’s love and justice real by loving our neighbors, children, and all of creation through our collective work, such as seeking racial, economic, environmental, and LGBTQ justice.
- We believe God calls us to bring new life as agents of change, and so we embrace and encourage adaptive and transformative leadership wherever the Body of Christ is gathered.
- We encourage local congregations and varied ministry settings, inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit, to form covenant partnerships with all who work for the common good in their local communities and throughout the world.
Feedback on the vision statement is welcome and can be sent the team at firstname.lastname@example.org
, or can be sent to any of the Conference offices.
The annual meetings of the three Conferences voted in June in favor of moving toward joining together as a new conference. Since that time, the Together, As One
planning team has been working on issues such as new bylaws and the makeup of a new, unified Board of Directors. The Together, As One
team will bring a proposal to the three current boards in February, who in turn will take it to the three annual meetings in June, 2018. The three conferences are once again holding a joint Annual Meeting June 15 - 16 in Springfield, MA.